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October 05, 2011

GOP Primary News And Notes - Perry Rakes In The Cash, Debates, Cain Surges And Romney Talks Like A Democrat (Again)

Rick Perry may have had a less than stellar roll out with voters but he's rolling in the dough.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry raised $17 million during the third fundraising quarter of the year despite a late entry into the race and a compressed time frame for raising money, campaign spokesman Mark Miner said Wednesday.

The number is significantly higher than the $10 million that the campaign had been floating as its target for the quarter. It is also nearly as high as the $18 million haul his chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, brought in during the second quarter. And it is likely higher than the $10 million to $12 million Romney is expected to raise during the third quarter.

Of that $17 million, Perry still has $15 million in the bank. So while his first month to 6 weeks on the trail was awful from a polling perspective at least it was cheap. If and it this point, it's a big if, Perry gets his act together, he's got plenty of money to capitalize on it.

Perry's next chance to try again on the debate front will be next week at an event held by Bloomberg TV and the Washington Post which will be moderated by...Charlie Rose?

A couple of things-

First, Bloomberg TV? If the idea is to hold one of these things and not have anyone see it...Mission Accomplished.

Second, Charlie Rose? That means each question will be 9 minutes long and candidates will have 1 minute to answer, though they will be frequently interrupted by the moderator during that time.

Overall the idea of holding a debate focused exclusively on the economy/federal spending is a good one. It should favor Romney and Cain. For Perry, it's a chance to connect his record in Texas to his vision for the future of America. He really needs to find a way to do that or he'll simply continue to squander one of his major advantages over both Romney and Obama.

For more on the GOP "debates", you should be subscribing to guest blogger Ben Domenech's free daily email newsletter (subscribe here).

But this gets back to a larger question: why are we letting the media dictate this crap? Why can't actually conservative/Republican organizations step in and take a leadership role in sponsoring these and winnowing the field? Why can't we have questioner panels on topical issues? Wouldn't it be better to see panels with questions from folks like Steve Moore, Charles Krauthammer, Steve Hayward, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Jim Pethokoukis and others? Why do we let the least serious people in the world, with an ideological bent against the right to boot, decide what questions matter? For comparison, here's Reagan and HW Bush duking it out in 1980. Anderson was still in the race at this point (had just scored two strong third place finishes in Wisconsin and Kansas at 27% and 18%), so was Howard Baker, so was Phil Crane... these are not small personalities, that's the Senate Minority Leader for crying out loud. But the candidates told them to go screw and debated in Houston. They actually just talk through policy! Reagan and Bush are, in that clip, disagreeing about how much you can cut taxes without spending cuts at the same time, disagreeing about Art Laffer... Imagine being able to see a debate where the candidates just talk to each other for a good chunk of time. That’s what they’re supposed to be, not ping-based gameshows.

In horse race news...Herman Cain momentum is starting to show up in the polls.

Herman Cain's rise through the Republican field continued Wednesday, as a new national poll found the former businessman tied with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for first place in the latest CBS News poll.

Cain and Romney both earned the support of 17 percent of American voters - a rise of 12 percentage points for Cain compared to two weeks ago. His support seems to have come almost entirely to the detriment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who nearly halved his number of supporters, falling 11 percentage points from 23 to 12 percent.

Romney has more or less run a Rose Garden primary campaign, just sort of floating around in the low to mid 20's nationally and watching contenders like Bachmann and Perry come and go.


Cain obviously has the momentum for the moment coming off his strong performances in the Florida debate and straw poll but it will be interesting to see if Romney takes him seriously enough to go after at some point. Right now Cain is benefiting from people's reactions to his personality more than anything. What will happen to him when voters and pundits start taking a serious look at his 9-9-9 plan or other candidates take him seriously enough to be worth attacking? Being able to take and throw a punch are important political skills. We don't know yet if Cain has them.

Speaking of throwing a punch, Mitt flailed around at Perry yesterday in an attempt to scare the old folks.

“I don’t think the major problem is that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme,” said Mr. Romney, referring to the description used by Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. “I think the problem is keeping it from becoming a Perry scheme.”

Reassuring the crowd, almost all of whom were old enough to have started collecting their benefits, he explained, “Social Security is not going to change for anyone in this room.”

“Except for those two little ones right here,” he joked, pointing at two grade-schoolers in the front row. (And they hardly seemed to mind that their plan might be changing down the road — after the event, they approach Mr. Romney for his autograph).

When Mr. Romney first began to engage Mr. Perry several weeks ago, he did so over the issue of Social Security, and it was a topic he made sure to emphasize here.

“One of my contenders in the Republican Party says Social Security is a Ponzi scheme,” he said. “I don’t happen to think that’s the case. I think Social Security has worked pretty darn well for 75 years.”

Presidential campaigns aren't beanbag but this "Perry scheme" stuff is stunningly dishonest. Perry has been clear, though not as strongly as he needs to be compared to his passionate critique of the system, that if you are on Social Security now or getting close to it, nothing is going to change.

One advantage to the way Mitt is attacking Perry is that if Perry does become the nominee, he'll already have run and won against someone using the Democrats entitlements playbook.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:35 AM

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